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Tunnell v. The Gary W. Compton and Loretta Compton Trust

Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo

May 31, 2018

BOBBY TUNNELL, APPELLANT
v.
THE GARY W. COMPTON AND LORETTA COMPTON TRUST, GARY AND LORETTA COMPTON, TRUSTEES, APPELLEES

          On Appeal from the 181st District Court Randall County, Texas Trial Court No. 68, 967-B, Honorable John B. Board, Presiding

          Before CAMPBELL and PIRTLE and PARKER, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JUDY C. PARKER JUSTICE.

         This is a dispute between adjoining land owners over a small tract of land. Tunnell filed suit against the Comptons asserting fee simple ownership of the disputed property. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Comptons. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Background

         On March 2, 2012, Gary and Loretta Compton purchased a 6.993-acre tract of land located at 9400 Dowell Road.[1] The property is a rectangular shaped area of land just south of Amarillo. Dowell Road runs along the east side of the property. Bobby Tunnell's home and property is situated on a 30.976-acre tract to the west of the Compton property and is landlocked. There is a 30-foot roadway and utility easement from Dowell Road through the Compton property to Tunnell's property. The ownership of this roadway is the subject of the underlying dispute between the parties.

         The disputed property is approximately 0.921 acres and is located within the metes and bounds description of the Compton tract. This property is also mentioned in Tunnell's 2003 warranty deed as a "30 foot roadway and utility easement."

         Problems between the parties started when the Comptons began construction of a house toward the eastern portion of their property, just north of the easement. Tunnell's attorney sent a letter to the Comptons on September 22, 2015, advising the Comptons to cease any use of the roadway. Soon thereafter, Tunnell filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that he is the owner of the property in fee simple through his 2003 deed or adverse possession.[2]

         The trial court granted the Comptons' motion for partial summary judgment as to ownership only.[3] Tunnell appeals the adverse ruling on the summary judgment and the granting of a permanent injunction that he refrain from interference with the Comptons' use of the land.

         Standards of Review

         Traditional Motion for Summary Judgment

         We review the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment de novo. Cantey Hanger, LLP v. Byrd, 467 S.W.3d 477, 481 (Tex. 2015). When reviewing a summary judgment, we take as true all evidence favorable to the nonmovant, and we indulge every reasonable inference and resolve any doubts in the nonmovant's favor. Valence Operating Co. v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d 656, 661 (Tex. 2005). A trial court properly grants a motion for summary judgment when the movant has established that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Knott, 128 S.W.3d 211, 215-16 (Tex. 2003). When the trial court does not specify the grounds for its summary judgment, the appellate court must affirm the summary judgment if any of the theories presented to the trial court and preserved for appellate review are meritorious. Id. at 216.

         No-Evidence Motion for Summary Judgment

         In reviewing a no-evidence summary judgment, we must consider all the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom the summary judgment was rendered, crediting evidence favorable to that party if reasonable jurors could and disregarding contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not. Gonzalez v. Ramirez,463 S.W.3d 499, 504 (Tex. 2015); City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 827 (Tex. 2005). We will affirm a no-evidence summary judgment if the record shows one of the following: (1) there is no evidence on the challenged element, (2) the evidence offered to prove the challenged element is no more than a scintilla, (3) the evidence establishes the opposite of the challenged element, or (4) the court is barred by law or ...


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